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Health officials probe NHS thefts

Health officials have launched an investigation after it was revealed more than 57 "high-value" thefts have taken place at NHS Trusts over the past five years.

Mobile scanner units, ambulance satellite navigation systems, patients' belongings and even laughing gas have all been stolen from hospitals and health centres, prompting security teams to look at new measures designed to combat the growing threat.

Jill Abethell, who is overseeing the investigation for the NHS Security Management Service, told the BBC: "I think like any organisation open to the public there is that risk something can be stolen.

"We want to find out more so we can look to see if measures can be taken to protect property."

Recent "high-value" thefts - those worth more than £20,000 - included a mobile scanner unit from Corby, Northants, which caused treatment delays for some 70 patients. And in Worcestershire Royal Hospital, an elderly patient had money and photographs stolen as she lay in bed awaiting treatment.

More than 100,000 litres of laughing gas were also taken from Torbay Hospital in Devon in October - the second time in six weeks that the potentially hazardous material had been taken from the site.

Copyright Press Association 2009